How important is it for a local business to ensure that its basic listing data (name, phone number and address) is included in the YellowPages.ca database?
How important is it for a local business to ensure that its enhanced content (hours of operations, products, services, etc) are also included in the YellowPages.ca database?
Ultimately the above questions boil down to, “what’s in in for the SMB”. To help answer this, I have created the following eco-system slide that shows how/who the data from yellowpages.ca gets distributed across the consumer eco-system in Canada. NOTE: This is a representative sample of partnerships of companies that use portions or all of the yellowpages.ca database to offer a local connection to its audience.
For an SMB this boils down to two main reasons why this is important:
1) Time Saving – by having a central distribution of basic + enhanced listing data a SMB does not have to spend time to manage their data in multiple locations.
2) Consistency of Information – having the same information appear in a consistent manner across this eco-system allows a SMB to manage and control their message in a more manageable way.
If it is true that the users will continue to splinter into more consumer platforms it will become more and more critical for a centralized hub that can distribute that information.
In Canada, YellowPages.ca is a very important hub for the SMB market.
What do you think?
Over the past few years I have blogged often about news in the Canadian Space regarding mobile. Up until this point in time, I never stated explicitly that mobile was a necessity for SMBs in Canada but, we are at the tipping point in Canada of mobile usage (especially SmartPhone usage) and it is now very important for SMBs to start thinking mobile and most importantly make sure their content is mobile friendly.
What is mobile friendly content from a SMB? In a nutshell, it is when you can view your content on a mobile device (Apple iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.) in a native format by which the user does not have to zoom or pinch the screen (for all your iPhone users). For this example, I am going to use my personal Dentist, Optimum Dentistry in Marda Loop to demonstrate the difference between Mobile Enhanced Content and Rendering on a Mobile Phone.
This is Rendering on a iPhone (and is not mobile enhanced content):
Hours of Operations Page:
This is Mobile Enhanced Content:
Hours of Operations Page:
As a user – which one your you prefer to land on?
Mobile enhanced content basically means rendering for the native device in which the user is viewing, which really means that your website designer need to put some specific code on your website that detects the users device and serves up content formatted for that device.
Normally, mobile sites will consist of less content than website. Keep in simple – a) what you do, b) hours of operations, c) map and driving directions (you can usually use the native device for this), d) what you sell. Keep all the enhanced content, flash, massive photo galleris and in some cases if you have advanced forms or e-commerce off you mobile site; devices are too small and in mobile, LESS = MORE.
1) If you don’t own a iPhone or Blackberry, find somebody who does and type in your website URL on the phone’s browser
2) If your site looks like the first example above, it is not mobile enhanced, call your web designer and if he/she can’t help, fire them and find somebody else
3) If your site looks like the second example above, then you are good to go
What About Mobile Marketing in Canada?
Well this is where it gets very easy. There are really 2 key places that you need to be concerned about when it comes to mobile marketing in Canada. Google and YellowPages.ca. NOTE: if you are a client of YellowPages.ca, all your business listing information gets syndicated to Google (as well as MSN and Yahoo). If you want a quick snapshot of syndication in Canada, check out an old blog post titled – Directory Assistance in Canada – Paid and Free DA – Facts Every Consumer and Small Business Owner Should Know.
Both Google and YellowPages.ca are completely mobile enhanced web properties. See examples below for looking at data on Ramanda Hotel and Suites in Vancouver.
To learn more about Google Mobile click here.
To learn more about YellowPages.ca Mobile click here.
The above are mobile web. In the application space, Google does not disclose its download numbers, but YellowPages.ca has now been downloaded over 1.8M times, which by all accounts makes it the most downloaded local application in Canada. At this point, any content that you have on YellowPages.ca is automatically ported over to YellowPages.ca Mobile + YellowPages.ca Mobile Applications, so SMBs are getting growing coverage.
In March of this year, I posted the following blog post which shows you some screenshots of the iPhone application by YellowPages.ca – New YellowPages.ca Mobile Application Available. In June, I followed up with the following post introducing the iPad application for YellowPages.ca – First Look – YellowPages.ca iPad Application which managed to become #1 within 24-hours of its launch and has consistently stayed in the top 50 downloaded applications.
Screenshot of iPad Application Search Results:
Enhanced SMB Content on the iPad:
Lastly, back in April I did a comparison of the top mobile applications in Canada, from a SMB perspective – the voting is still open if you want to vote for your favorite mobile interface, please do so.
In Conclusion …. 3 Tips for Canadian SMBs on Mobile Thinking
1) Make sure your content is mobile enhanced on your website URL (talk to your web design company)
2) Make sure your content is distributed in YellowPages.ca and Google (this will give you the majority of coverage and at this point is included in both offerings, no need to pay extra)
3) In your analytics, track the number of mobile views (you will probably be surprised at the increasing number of your customers who are accessing your basic business data via mobile).
Overtime as the mobile space heats up, this simplified strategy will change, but for now, keep it simple, prep your content and start to monitor usage.
Yellow Pages Group is Canada’s Largest Canadian Internet Company! Is It True? Yes, Here’s Why [Part 1]
Full disclosure; I am the head of business development for Yellow Pages Group in Canada, check out my LinkedIn profile. What I will share with you below is public information that I felt was time to compile into one post. With the recent announcement of the SMB Targeted Campaign by YPG and with prominant bloggers like Greg Sterling posting, “YPG Aims New Brand Campaign at SMBs” the question will be raised – is it true? Is Yellow Pages Group Canada really the largest Canadian Internet company?
I get asked a lot about YPG in networking events, from former colleagues and friends as to what exactly is YPG doing in the online space. Many people wrongly assume that we simply print books and that we are irrelevant to SMBs when it comes to the web. When explained to them how active YPG is online, what properties we own, and our mission to put our advertisers in the “path of ready to buy consumers”, they usually start to see the full picture of how RELEVANT YPG actually is in the Canadian Internet Landscape and why I am as passionate as I am about this business.
To start with, here is the print ad that is running across the country and here is a link to the Radio Ads:
I will break this post into the following 3 parts to explain the rationale regarding this claim of Canada’s Largest Internet Company:
#1) Let’s Talk Reach and Distribution
When I talk reach, I like to use a third party company to measure relative reach. Therefore, below I will use ComScore Media Metrix as the benchmark to speak about reach. There are other methods to track reach, a) internal logs, b) alexa, c) compete, etc. but in the Canadian Media Landscape – Comscore is still a standard when it comes to companies making decisions about spending on digital ad budgets as well as completely independent, therefore I use them as the benchmark.
Let’s start by looking at the September 2010 ComScore Numbers for the top 20 Properties used by Canadians. Here is the list:
If you re-sort this list based to only Canadian Owned Companies, or majority owned by Canadians, the top 20 list breaks down to only 6 companies.
#1) Yellow Pages Group
#2) Sympatico.ca Property
#3) Canoe Network
#5) Postmedia Network (formerly, CanWest Interactive)
#6) The Weather Network Meteomedia
Based on this metric, it is clear that YPG is in fact Canada’s largest Canadian Owned Internet company.
One important aspect of the YPG network is its unique position of “ready to buy consumers” who have location intentions. The portfolio of properties that makes up Yellow Pages Group (see below) are a collection of sites that have intention to buy as a common element. This is a powerful as other leading web properties are focused on or have elements of research, education or entertainment. The leading search engine, Google, reports that 20% of their queries are location based as an example of how even major search engines are only partially used for the purposes of local.
In terms of the buying funnel it is very accurate to say that YPG Users are closer to the buying decision, which makes them highly qualified leads. If you disagree with this, I would like to hear your opinion why?
Here is a sample of the sites that make up the Yellow Pages Group network:
- YellowPages.ca & PagesJaunes.ca
- AutoTrader.ca & AutoHebdo.net
On the Social Front – earlier this year I did a post on How Social is Yellow Pages Group in Canada – if you are interested, check out to see how active we are in Social Media.
On the distribution front, YPG is one of Canada’s most active companies that continually looks to distribute its content + its advertisers content throughout the web eco-system. Let’s take a look at some examples:
Search Engines – YPG listing data is distributed to Google, Yahoo and MSN. If your business is listed on YellowPages.ca, it will be listed on all major search engines in Canada. See attribution at the bottom of this sample from Google.
Major Portals – YellowPages.ca is integrated on all of Canada’s major portals, MSN, Sympatico, Yahoo, AOL, PostMedia Network, The Weather Network to name a few. Here are some example of doing a search for DENTISTS-TORONTO:
PostMedia Including Sites Such as:
Canada.com – Dentists in Canada
Montreal Gazette – Dentists in Montreal
Calgary Herald – Dentists in Calgary
Vancouver Sun – Dentists in Vancouver
Edmonton Journal – Dentists in Edmonton
Ottawa Citizen – Dentists in Ottawa
Telcos – Distribution through major Telco websites including Bell.ca, MyTelus.com, MTS through MyWinnipeg.com, Bell Aliant, NorthernTel, TBay Tel.
YellowAPI.com – The Yellow API allows ANYONE to build their own applications and mashups by providing dynamic local business data. We supply you the tools to encourage innovation and expand your audience reach to 33 million people. Read more about our data and opportunities in the Overview.
In June, YPG debuted its iPad Application (see my post when this was the #1 app in iTunes) and according to the press release was approaching 1 Million Downloads of its mobile applications. As of today, this number is well over 1 Million.
Think about this for a second.
Over 1 Million Downloads of applications, for a 100% pure Canadian application that is not a game. There are many great Canadians Applications for SmartPhones, TheWeatherNetwork, GlobeandMail, Sportnet, etc. which all are incredible in their vertical, but YPG is the only one focused solely on connecting local buyers and consumers – that is pretty cool.
In terms of mobile development YPG Canada is also a leader, releasing a specific version for each major platform used by Canadians. Check out more at Yellow Pages Mobile.
Although there is no 3rd party that benchmarks applications, I can tell you personally that I have talked with many of the major players in Canada and the US and at over 1M downloads, YPG is not only a leader in Canada (all agree that we likely #1) but would be a leading application down south as well. When it comes to local mobile applications, there is little doubt that YPG would be #1.
So What Does This Mean For a Small Business
If your business relies on directive advertising as a source of leads, YPG still drives a significant number of leads. In my upcoming post on revenue and the SMB portfolio, I will explain how YPG has embraced other sources of lead management for SMBs, namely Search Engines, to continue to drive its mission of connecting buyers and sellers.
In the interim, I suggest you take a look at the following posts, some of these are a couple of years old but still very relevant for Small Business Owners.
What Do You Think of Part 1?
My last post taked about Weather and Local Search and how we completed an integration with The Weather Network and Yellow Pages Group. If you are interested in integrating local search powered by YellowPages.ca in your Canadian property; at the bottom of this post I have connection points – I would be happy to discuss options with you.
For this post I wanted to focus on a couple of integrations on Real Estate websites and Local Search. Both of these categories are completely complimentary and when you combine local search to a real estate offering you provide a more complete user experience.
Integration Example #1 – HomeTrader.ca
About Home Trader (from their website) – homeTRADER.ca – Canada’s Real Estate Search Engine – It’s a one-stop destination with listings and information on homes for sales, apartments for rent, house rentals, condos for sale across Canada.
Here is a quick walking tour of their site:
Home Page (from the home page, it will default you to your IP location, or you can simply enter your location – here is an example of Toronto)
From the home page I selected downtown Toronto and as you can see it will plot all the locations that are available:
When you click on a particular location it will provide you with pop-up summary of the location and give you the option to find more details on the property. I decided to click on a rental property on Nelson Street.
Once you click on the property that you are interesting in finding more details, you have the option of plotting around you some popular local categories (powered by YellowPages.ca). I clicked on a bank icon to see what banks are around this particular location:
These are all extremely popular urban market categories that anybody is looking for when moving to a new location in a city. Since each category is toggle on/off makes it very easy for any user to find exactly what is important to them.
About ByTheOwner – from their website – Our mission is to give consumers a complete real estate service through the Internet so they can sell, buy or rent a property privately, without an agent and with no commission. Together, ByTheOwner and its French counterpart DuProprio constitute the largest and most visited For Sale By Owner network in Canada.
Home Page – starting with the home page you are presented with a number of hot properties that are available as well as a number of search functions.
If you select a property – you end up going to the properties detail page. On the detail page you are presented with all the details on the property.
Notice at the bottom of the property you are presented with a local search area (powered by YellowPages.ca) that gives a potential new home owner with access to popular search categories and the ability to conduct a local search.
One very nice feature with this implementation is that all the one-click categories are pre-populated based on the location of the address in which you are looking at. The user does not have to think about whether the search is locally relevant or not, all searches are automatically targeted to the properties location – very cool.
From the example above on homeTrader.ca, which is more targeted towards condos, apartments and rentals on ByTheOwner, the categories are move geared towards home owners. Categories such as; Insurance, Banks, Loans, Mortgages, Inspections, Appraisers, Movers, Storage, Lawyers, Building Contractors
This integration is also part of DuProPrio.com, the french language counterpart to the ByTheOwner.com.
So what do you think about the following integrations – is this something that is useful for end users? If you are interested in integrating Canadian local search, powered by YellowPages.ca, in your properties, please feel free to contact me via my LinkedIn.com profile or my Twitter account and I will provide you with my work email address and one of my business development team will connect with you regarding integration options.
Released over this past weekend was a very cool blackberry application from Yellow Pages Group. The application can be downloaded directly to your blackberry at InstallYP.ca/Blackberry (http://installyp.ca/blackberry) – please note that this link is blackberry specific, if you try to access through a web browser it will tell you that your devise is not supported.
This application features the leading directory services in Canada, YellowPages - for finding a business, Canada411 for finding a person, and a blended Reverse Lookup for finding both people and businesses.
Compatible with the newest blackberries and backward compatible to previous generations, this application automatically detects your device and installs the features that are compatible. For example, GPS search is enabled on devices with GPS, non GPS blackberries won’t see this option.
Lastly, the application auto detects your language settings and is available in French and English – pretty cool stuff.
Some of the high-level features include:
- tab between Business, People and Reverse Lookup
- save listing information through MyFavs or directly to your blackberry address book or both
- people search with integrated find businesses nearby (surprise your date with flowers on the way)
- GPS search (for devices where this is enabled)
- direct connect to Voice Search (no charge usage) if you are on the go
Application is completely free to download and overall is pretty cool and puts the most up to date Business and People information in Canada at your fingertips.
If you are interested, check out other neat local Canadian search applications.
Video is definately making its mark in Canada with a number of local search sites launching video products. Companies such as Yellow Pages Group on YellowPages.ca, GoldBook, Canpages all have video products available to their customers.
Of particular note in this post is the ability to embed these videos into 3rd party websites. For end customers this is a great way to leverage the video service on their own websites to generate a richer experience for customers who might type their URL directly. This service is available on YellowPages.ca. Under any video you can select “embed”, grab the code and place it on your website.
Here are some examples of local business video ads (embedded from YellowPages.ca):
Posted a couple of days ago is an interview that I did with Larry Sullivan of Local Biz Bits, blog dedicated to provides relevant information, in simple terms, on local search marketing and related Internet marketing techniques for small businesses.
The interview was on such subjects as the local search space in Canada, the impact of social networking, my thoughts on local search in the US and Europe and more.
If you are interested in reading this interview please visit the posting, Local Search – Canadian Style.
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
In discussions with small business owners, when asked, what method of tracking do you use to measure your new sales, the most common response is “I ask my consumers where they heard about me”. Usually the second part of the conversation goes this way – “word of mouth is my best form of advertising” and “I tried many forms of advertising, none have worked for me”.
For this particular post I want to focus on two areas:
1) How word-of-mouth (WOM) needs support
2) How to leverage in-store questions and online traffic
I am a very strong believer in WOM and the incredible growth it can generate. That being said, WOM often takes more credit away from supporting advertising vehicles, giving the impression to a SME that their advertising is not working.
A typical conversation with a new customer may go like this:
Bus Owner: Thanks for coming in. How did you happen to hear about our store?
Customer: A friend recommended you
Bus Owner: That’s great, if you liked the service today, please tell your friends
The above dialogue is good, however, what if the conversation was slightly changed:
Bus Owner: Thanks for coming in. Can I ask you two questions about how you come to our store today?
Bus Owner: How did you hear about out store?
Customer: From a friend
Bus Owner: Thanks, how did you get our address?
Customer: From your website? From my friend? From the Yellow Pages?
Bus Owner: That’s great, if you liked the service today, please tell your friends about us and have them visit my website, Yellow Pages ad, etc. for my store details.
Of course the exact questions can be changed and tailored, but the main point is that in most cases WOM is supported by another medium that connects the buyer and the seller. People will refer people they like to people they trust, however, those same people will usually not know all the details about your business. WOM can accelerate your sales when you have a support mechanism behind it and you incorporate it into your WOM strategy.
In-Store Questions and Online Traffic
Continuing with the example above and examining customers who indicated they used the Internet to find your address, we need to examine our web analytics. The first question I usually get is, should I ask customers how they found me on the web? I advise against asking any questions about how people found you on the web. The reason is that there is a lot of confusion among web users – so the typical response is Google – even if they used MSN, Yahoo or something else. This gives the illusion that all web traffic is generated from Google – which is not the case. As a business owner, if you have a good analytics package – all you need to know from your customers is whether they saw your website. Once you have a in-store count you can cross-reference this with your web analytics to find out what is and is not working online.
As a side-note I want to share a quick story. I helped a auto dealer in Calgary with their tracking and customer acquisition strategies. Calgary has two major newspaper dailies – the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun. We started by creating a baseline, by spending one month asking customers how they came to stop by the dealership. Of the two newspaper dailies what we found was that 25% came from paper 1 and 15% came from paper 2. Here is where it gets interesting – this particular dealership had not advertised in paper 2 for a couple of years, yet 15% of new customers said they found the dealership there. Here is my take on this non-scientific survey – when asked, some customers will simply answer what comes to their mind first as opposed to what is actual. Not because they are dishonest, just that they most likely don’t care and will answer to shut you up. The same thing is happening on the web – I bet I could take 10 people who use Yahoo Search as their primary engine and half of them, when asked quickly, would probably say Google. My point is that only relying on asking people how they found you on the web can be misleading, whereas this potential misleading information does not exist with web analytics.
Here are some stats from my mom’s business, The Bra Lady. What we have learned over the past 4-years of tracking results is that WOM is by far her #1 way of generating new business with the Internet as her primary support mechanism to WOM. What we have also found is that many people are referred to her business, but use search engines and directories to find her web address. Probably 80% of her new clients indicate that Internet played a role. NOTE: this may be high and in her particular situation makes a lot of sense – because she is a home based business. However, when I worked with Auto Dealers – this number was about the same and dentists were up there as well.
On a monthly basis we compare the number of referrals who indicate the Internet was a source of them finding her to her actual analytics – we use Google Analytics to understand better exactly how these people ending up finding her.
Here is the aggregate view:
In the above you will notice that the top three referrers of traffic are Google, YellowPages.ca, and Direct. Examining just the top three referrers, typically I would examine further both the traffic from YellowPages.ca and Google.
What I notice is the majority of keywords from Google are good quality. You will notice that keyword #20 – the one that references ebay is not considered a good keyword, however, this is the nature of search engines. It is important when examining search engine traffic to look at the keywords to get a accurate picture. The conclusion is that Google is generating good traffic.
What I notice is that the top referring URL from yellowpages.ca is the merchant page that was built for her business by YPG – this is good – it supports the decision to have the website URL located on this page. If I continue to examine further I see that users were searching using keywords we anticipated and specifically in Calgary. What I like about directory traffic is that people don’t surf directories. They go there for a purpose – usually to find something in particular – so the traffic generated here is high-quality.
This is pretty self-explanatory.
You will notice that we are also showing other top referrers in Facebook and CalgaryPlus.ca. I did a posting back in July of this year – Facebook – Can Local Business Florish in Social Networking? and its potential impact on local business – watch for this. For those of you interested – here is an article I posted back in 2005 on the strength of media companies and front-page placement – Power of Front Page Placement.
In conclusion – I would challenge any SME to dig a little deeper in 2008 in terms of their tracking and understanding of customers. Also I would encourage you to not presuppose answers as to where online traffic might come from. In Canada – we are continually bombarded with US news and information about the Internet, which sometimes gives us a US perspective on traffic as opposed to a CDN perspective on traffic. Build your measurement criteria, find the tools to track and examine them monthly – this will generate great results for your business in 2008.